Eating By Macro. The Best of All Worlds.

Contributed by Coach Jason

This is the first in a series of posts in support of the Elite Athletic Development | CrossFit Arlington Heights Performance Fueling PrescriptionRegister for the program today!

The athletes who train at Elite Athletic Development | CrossFit Arlington Heights are committed to achieve their maximum potential. The adult and student athletes who train here are working hard to improve their “Fran” time; increase a 1RM Deadlift; cut time from a 5k, half-marathon, or marathon; change body composition; reduce or eliminate prescription drugs for blood pressure, cholesterol or Type 2 diabetes; or any number of other physical and performance goals. Regardless of the goal, one thing remains true: proper fueling is key to attaining success. But what is “proper” performance fueling?


There are no “bad” or “good” foods in the EAD | CFAH Performance Fueling Prescription … just the “right” foods for your nutritional needs.

The Good. The Bad. The Ugly. The Numbers.
The desire to achieve athletic success and the confusion behind the role nutrition plays leads many to eat only so-called clean, good foods and avoid bad foods at all costs. The premise seems simple enough … except there is no objective set of scientific criteria used to define clean foods. And there is zero data or evidence that a certain food or group of foods — clean or otherwise — will help you lose fat or perform better in the gym, or cause more fat gain or delay fat loss outside of the excess calories it has provided. Also problematic in the good foods / bad foods approach is that it leads many people to an unhealthy relationship with food and a lifelong battle to sustain athletic performance or body composition success. The most important factor in any nutrition plan is THE NUMBERS.

Eating By The Numbers.
The EAD | CFAH Performance Fueling Prescription was created exclusively by certified nutrition educators for our athletes to help them build a fueling strategy unique to their body composition and training goals. The PFP is the antithesis of traditional New Year’s Resolution plans based on scarcity and deprivation, and “good” or “bad” foods. Instead, the PFP is designed to ensure athletes abundantly consume foods they enjoy in and that will help them look good and feel better. The PFP is a by the numbers fueling strategy, and inspried by the practice of flexible eating.

Flexible Eating.
Flexible eating is a scientific approach to nutrition and plate composition that relies on nutritional values, not food types. There is strong empirical evidence that supports the ideology that NUMBERS MATTER when it comes to athletic performance, body composition, and optimal health for athletes. In this approach to nutrition planning, energy intake in the form of calories is closely regulated as energy input and output is the basis behind body weight and performance. Monitoring macronutrients (Protein, Fat and Carbohydrates), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), and fiber levels are also vital when using a flexible eating approach and are accounted for in terms of a certain number of these each day. While using this approach, no foods are off limits or restricted. If a food fits within your personal set of goal numbers, enjoy it! The practice of inclusive versus exclusive meal planning fosters a healthier and more sustainable approach to nutrition. The EAD | CFAH Performance Fueling Calculator is a simple tool to help our athletes determine the optimum mix of macronutrients to support their training, performance and body composition goals.

What Flexible Eating is NOT.
Although there are no foods that are off limits in this approach to meal planning, food quality is still critically important to proper fueling. Flexible eating is not an excuse to see how many cookies and donuts you can eat … but it doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for such foods in moderate amounts during any given day! Food quality in flexible eating is determined specifically by the numbers in any given food … not obscure and subjective beliefs about food types. Working within a set of numbers designed specifically for your individual needs, you will discover that in order to reach the right number of Protein, Fat, Carbohydrates, and Fiber, you will enjoy a variety of nutrient-dense foods that one would normally associate with healthful eating.

Jason graduated with honors from Benedictine University with a degree in Pre-Med / Nutrition and Biology, and will enter medical school in the coming months. A self-proclaimed nutrition nerd, Jason is a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer and nationally licensed EMT-B. Read more about Jason.




Doing the Post-WOD La Vita Coco?

Is Coconut Water All That It Is Cracked Up to Be?
Contributed by Coach Karen

Is coconut water the post-WOD magic you need?

On any given day the recycle bin at Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights contains empty tetra packs, cans and bottles of coconut water, presumably chugged by athletes as a post-WOD recovery drink.

Claims — supported by research paid for by one of the larger bottlers of the beverage — suggest coconut water is the “perfect solution” for exercise sessions less than 75 minutes. Coconut water proponents cite its purity (most brands have fewer than five ingredients), low calorie count, easy digestibility, high potassium content (more than contained in two bananas), and more.

Yet nutrition experts suggest that drinking coconut water is little more than a high-priced shell game.

The initial 15-30 minutes following a training session — particularly a Strength & Power or hard-hitting MetCon WOD — are golden when it comes to restoring energy systems for the next training session, and repairing and building muscle tissue. Research supports an optimal post-training fueling strategy includes eating three or four parts carbohydrates to one part protein, which is roughly the equivalent of snacking on 30-60 grams of carbohydrates and six – 20 grams of protein. It’s also important to drink 20 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost. Athletes should cap off their snack with a well-balanced meal within 90 minutes.

“Eating a high carbohydrate snack or meal, along with some protein, is essential for future optimal performance, recovery and safe play,” said Dawn Weatherwax RD, CSSD, LD, ATC, CSCS. According to Weatherwax, failing to replace glycogen – the stored blood sugar used during training sessions – can lead to fatigue, weakness, decreased concentration, increased chance of sustaining injury, and breakdown of muscle. Protein is essential for muscle to repair, recover and build.

The absence of protein and the low carbohydrate content in coconut water makes it no post-WOD miracle beverage, according to Paleo nutrition expert Jess Kuzma, MS, RD.

“If you really love coconut water, go ahead and drink it post-WOD, as long as you sip while you eat some turkey or another source of protein, and either a sweet potato or firm banana,” said Kuzma. “Another option is to add egg white protein to your coconut water to help hold you over until you can get a real meal. Without some sort of supplementation, coconut water is basically just expensive water.”

But what about claims that coconut water is a great way to replenish electrolytes lost during heavy training because of its high potassium content? “Even though the belief is that when you exercise you need a lot of potassium, sodium is more important,” said Liz Applegate, director of sports nutrition, UC Davis. “When you sweat, you lose a lot more sodium than potassium.” Adding a pinch of salt to coconut water is one way to improve the sodium content.

Bottom line: When it comes to post-WOD fueling, coconut water will certainly do no harm, but it isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, either.

Quench Our Curiosity. What are your thoughts on coconut water? Do you supplement your coconut water? What do you see as benefits of drinking coconut water post-WOD?